How mobile devices are replacing laptops


Africa’s smartphone market shrunk by 18 percent in 2022 compared to the previous year, according to the International Data Corporation. FILE PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

Less than 10 years ago, Michael Ogillo's preferred workstation was a laptop. Wherever he went, the gadget was always in a bag hanging on his shoulder.

With it, he would write reports, send and receive emails to his office, and even participate in meetings via video links, all while on the go.

The weight of the gadget was a small discomfort he gladly overlooked compared to the efficiency that the gadget afforded him.

Today, General Manager, Sales and Marketing at the Jomo Kenyatta Foundation does not have to haul his laptop everywhere he goes thanks to technological advances that have seen him shift his preference to his smartphone.

“Many of the tasks that were previously only possible on laptops and desktop computers can now be done on smartphones. It comes preinstalled with Microsoft's Office suite apps such as Excel, Word, and PDF which are great for writing reports and presentations. Since I handle communication I can also design simple posters using apps like Canva," says Mr Ogillo.

Famous Kenyan Ticktoker Dennis Ombachi aka the Roaming Chef has taken advantage of the high computing power of the new smartphones to build a brand.

Ombachi posts his content on his social media accounts.

“I love cooking and this is one of the reasons I share my recipes with people. With the new gadgets, I am able to record myself cooking, edit using the same smartphone and then post the short videos to various social media channels,” says Mr Ombachi.

Being a one-man crew, he says he has been able to keep the costs of his productions low.

“I tried out a few methods. I remember I even bought a professional camera but it was not working out for me. It was hectic and I needed to shoot today, edit quickly by tomorrow and have the content out without going through all the complex video editing process. So with the new devices, I am able to edit the videos very first and post them,” he adds.

Eunice Victoria, a Public Relations and marketing practitioner also can't remember the last time she took her laptop to a meeting.

“As a public relation personnel, I need a fast-charging phone with long battery life. I make several calls and hold various meetings. With a good device, I can work from anywhere,” says Ms Victoria.

Over the last decade, smartphones have become more powerful, fired by improvements in microchip technology.

Today's low-range smartphones pack more powerful specs than the flagship smartphones of ten years ago.

For instance, in 2013 Samsung Galaxy S4 was boasting 64 gigabits (GB) internal storage and 2GB RAM. This compares with the current flagship bearer, Samsung Galaxy S23 which has a 512GB storage capacity and 8GB RAM.

However, despite the increased shift to smartphones, Africa’s smartphone market shrunk by 18 percent in 2022 compared to the previous year, according to the International Data Corporation.

This is largely attributed to the reduction in consumer spending as inflation, and economic uncertainties persist.

The Corporation says in a report that 73.4 million units of smartphones were shipped into Africa, with South Korea’s Samsung and Chinese brands Tecno and Itel, accounting for 65 percent of the total shipments.

“We continue to witness consumer demand dwindle as refresh rates climb past 40 months in most major markets. “With 2022 declining more than 11 percent for the year, 2023 is set up to be a year of caution as vendors will rethink their portfolio of devices while channels will think twice before taking on excess inventory. However, on a positive note, consumers may find even more generous trade-in offers and promotions continuing well into 2023 as the market will think of new methods to drive upgrades and sell more devices, specifically high-end models.”

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